PALO ALTO — It’s been 12 years since Jeremy Lin led Palo Alto to a state title. Last year, the Vikings came agonizingly close to hanging a third boys basketball banner inside the gym after losing in the CIF NorCal Division I championship game.

The time for redemption arrives Saturday at Santa Clara University after eight-seeded Paly punched its ticket to the NorCal final with a 54-47 victory over No. 13 Menlo School in front of its home fans on Tuesday night.

“You could tell by the crowd tonight what a special opportunity this is,” said Paly coach Peter Diepenbrock, who was also on the bench for the 2006 state title. “That was a pretty full gym. That had to be 1,200 or 1,300 people there. That was just a great high school basketball experience for everybody.”

The Vikings (26-3) will meet No. 2 Las Lomas (30-3) at the Leavey Center for a 4 p.m. tip.

“That’s been our goal all year,” said Paly senior Max Dorward, who finished with a game-high 22 points. “One of the things we talked about before the season was winning league, then move on. Winning CCS, we came up short in that. So now we’re even hungrier to win NorCal and moving on to state.”

“The day right after we lost last year, it was eating at me — and eating at the rest of the players,” said Paly senior Bryant Jefferson, who added 12 points. “We all definitely wanted to get back there, and we did. And now we really want to go to state. That’s the ultimate goal, it’s to win this next game.”

Menlo (26-4), which won 58-52 in a previous meeting with Paly back on Dec. 8, struggled to find its rhythm the entire game as Lehigh-bound point guard Joe Foley was held to four points and fouled out with 2:20 left in the fourth quarter.

“I’m not saying we snuck up on Clayton Valley and Central, but we snuck up on them,” Larsen said. “We didn’t sneak up on Palo Alto. This is the third time we’ve played this year and they’re all good friends and they all play on the same AAU team. They were prepared.”

(Check back later for more details and quotes.)

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Source:: East Bay – Sports


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NorCal basketball: Palo Alto one step away from state final, again

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